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Astros: Jose Altuve on track for Hall of Fame worthy numbers

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 26: Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros looks on during batting practice prior to Game Four of the 2019 World Series against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on October 26, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 26: Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros looks on during batting practice prior to Game Four of the 2019 World Series against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on October 26, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images) /
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Astros star Jose Altuve is on pace to make it to Cooperstown one day.

Nine years into his major league career, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve is in a pretty good position. He’s won three batting titles and five silver sluggers, made six All-Star teams and won an MVP award. He’s also won a World Series for good measure, put up an .872 OPS in the playoffs and won an ALCS MVP award.

Of course that doesn’t tell the whole story. Thanks to the sign stealing scandal and the resulting mass hysteria, many across the baseball world will view Altuve with suspicion. They’ll think he wore a buzzer or can’t hit without the benefit of cheating. But smart people know different.

What we know is that Altuve doesn’t need to cheat and in fact did his best to avoid cheating. His three batting titles didn’t come from any illicit practices — they came from the fact that he gets the barrel to the ball as well as anyone in the game.

If he continues to show that as we all expect him to, he could end up with some impressive numbers by the time he retires. And hopefully by that point, the hysteria will have worn off and Hall of Fame voters will be able to see Altuve for the gifted player he truly is.

The Numbers

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Arguably the most important stat in his eventual case for Cooperstown is hits. Through nine seasons, he’s amassed 1,568 hits, leaving him 1,432 shy of that coveted 3,000-hit mark. If he gets there, it’ll be hard to argue against keeping him out.

He’s had four seasons of 200 or more hits, but he doesn’t necessarily need that many moving forward. If he averages 160 hits per season for the next nine years, he’ll break that 3,000-hit plateau. If he’s healthy, there’s no reason he can’t accomplish that.

The rest of the stats will be helpful but not necessarily imperative to his case. His career batting average sits at .315, so if he can at least keep that mark above .300, it’s a big plus for his resume. His 299 doubles should continue to climb, and at least getting to 500 will look good as well.

The next two stats are trending in opposite directions. He has 254 stolen bases, but he’s not the base stealing threat he used to be. After posting six straight seasons with 30 or more steals, he’s totaled only 23 over the past two years. His case won’t be resting on this stat, but continuing to steal a few bases here and there wouldn’t hurt.

His home run totals, however, are going up. After hitting 21 total homers in his first four seasons, he bashed a career-high 31 in 2019. It’s unlikely that he’ll be a 40-homer guy, but continuing to hit 20 or so homers each year can easily put him over 300 total for his career.

If he can end up with 3,000 hits, 300 homers and 300 stolen bases, he would join a pretty exclusive group. The only two players to hit that trifecta are Willie Mays and Alex Rodriguez — and Mays is the only one to do it with a career .300 average. Rickey Henderson and Craig Biggio each fell less than 10 homers shy of joining them, interestingly enough.

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So Altuve is in a position to end up in rarefied air if he can stay healthy and continue producing at the plate. If he’s able to get there, even the haters will have a hard time making a coherent argument as to why he’s not fit for Cooperstown.

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